With the previous opinion piece examining relationships and the premises on which it its constructed upon in our first year at a Junior College, this second piece seeks to understand the self through the lens of Pride and the effects which it imparts upon our psyche. Commonly defined to be a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing or conduct, pride is both wholly essential as well as detrimental in our overall development as a human being in Singapore today.
Why is it that I make such an assumption?
It is because pride, as compared to previous eras, is now concerned with the various degrees in which it is displayed, not so much whether one is in possession of it or not. When human beings cast or judge a certain quality over a spectrum, we end up in a trap of our own construct. This begets the dilemma in which we face today, how much pride is enough pride?
Although being able to be displayed over a spectrum, pride can still largely be classified over two tiers. The first tier would be the pride of the first degree, pride that is seen as the greatest sin because it is the gateway of which all other sins enter the mortal self. By excessively prioritizing the self above all other things, one denies him or herself from the acceptance of God and therefore is unable to be in a position to accept His Grace. However, this piece is not here to consecrate the Christian religion but to show that by committing the sin of Pride, one finds himself unable to see past the self, creating a myopic and limited worldview that would prove unwise in our ever increasing globalized and connected world. The other facet this example brings about is the ubiquitous and universal agreement of institutions on the negative aspects of Pride, one in which spans several millennia from the time the fourth century monk Evagrius Ponticus first penned down the seven deadly sins till today whereby warnings on excessive self-indulgence is prevalent in advertising billboards and posters.
What is interesting, however, is the fact that pride is also special because it is one of the only sins that can be taken in a positive light; it bequeaths upon the sinner a quality sought after wildly in the modern context, confidence. This brings me to the second tier of pride, pride of the second degree, self-confidence. Self-confidence has been revered and taken to be the ticket to a successful future because it not only reflects the ability for said individual to perform at task-oriented activities but self-confidence also attracts a following of other people, much like how a light bulb attract a constant buzz of flies. It is this wild desire to attain confidence and an act tough attitude in the face of adversity that one falls victim to pride of the first degree.
The question that I have posed earlier, that of how much pride is enough pride is suddenly rendered moot because we have not been asking ourselves that for the longest time. We have forgotten that excessive self-confidence blinds us from our faults and puts a stop to our development as we adopt a fixed mindset. The question our generation has to keep asking ourselves is therefore, is my confidence leading me to be too prideful?
In the Book of Genesis, Eve was tempted by the snake to procure God’s knowledge by eating the apple from the forbidden tree. In those days when Pride was defined to be the desire to ‘attain divinity’, Eve was said to be the first victim of Pride and from thence onwards, human beings have fallen victim to it. Till today, the refusal to say ‘I am wrong’ or even think about one’s excessive claim to feelings of self-righteousness is Pride’s manner of showing its wily tricks and enduring legacy. As JC students, we must be able to discern when our pride is straining our relationship with others or even the relationship with ourselves. Though it is hard to imagine, most of us are victims to the all-consuming myopic worldview that Pride creates. If you have committed a slew of mistakes or are unable to comprehend why you feel sad when you are lonely, take a moment to ruminate whether it is because you are truly lonely or whether it is just solitude coupled with the ugly face of pride smiling back at you.